Thank you to Tor Books for sending me a copy of The Fragile Threads of Power in exchange for an honest review.

Magic once thrived across the realm of four worlds united by the city of London. As its power grew uncontrollable, however, the worlds sealed themselves off from one another. Only three Antari capable of opening these doors remain in recent memory: Kell Maresh of Red London, Delilah Bard of Grey London, and Holland Vosijk of White London. But even they are rarely seen. A new Antari named Kosika has emerged in White London, posing a threat with her religious zeal and willingness to use blood to sustain her city.

Meanwhile, in Red London, King Rhy Maresh faces a rising rebellion determined to overthrow the throne and restore the balance of power. Amidst the turmoil, a girl named Tes obtains a device with the potential to reshape the destiny of all four worlds. She may have the power to bring the worlds together — or unravel them once and for all.

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The Fragile Threads of Power is the grand return to the world of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. Picking up seven years after the events of the final book, this is less a spinoff than a direct sequel. You definitely need some familiarity with the series before diving in. Fans, however, will love seeing all of their favorites again.

Seven years after A Conjuring of Light, these characters are hardened and cynical from trauma and grief. There’s less humor and delight in magic than in the original trilogy. That said, I loved the expansion of the magic system and what people can do with these powers. Being basically the fourth book in a series, The Fragile Threads of Power gives readers an even deeper look into this world. Schwab can take the time to use the other Londons and the entire magic system more in some cool ways.

The story does take a while to get moving as Schwab catches readers up on the seven years they’ve missed. Much of The Fragile Threads of Power consists of flashbacks and exposition, slowing down the action. Similar to A Darker Shade of Magic, this book includes a lot of plot setup for future installments. Schwab introduces plenty of new characters and dramatic intrigue but gets bogged down by explanation.

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I think that limiting the number of point-of-view characters would have helped here. I loved the chance to see my favorite characters again. However, the plot could have flowed more if the perspectives were limited to either all returning characters or stuck only with the new ones. Regardless, Schwab is a talented writer, and I would never turn down a chance to revisit one of my favorite fantasy series. 

For fans of the Shades of Magic series, The Fragile Threads of Power is a great follow-up. With both familiar characters and new worlds, I can’t wait to see where V.E. Schwab goes next.

The Fragile Threads of Power is available now from your local independent bookstore or Bookshop.org.

TW: alcohol, blood, chronic illness death, gore, grief, kidnapping, murder, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, torture, violence

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